The blockbuster season is upon us …almost. To keep you going until then, I thought I would share 3 Japanese Feature films that I really love. Check them out after the jump.
Kikujirō /菊次郎の夏 (Takeshi Kitano, 1999)
Although Beat Takeshi is most well-known for his violent gangster roles, it is this surprisingly moving performance which I admire him for the most.
An unhappy young boy sets out on a journey to find his wayward mother. Kikijirō (as Beat Takeshi) notices the young boy alone and decides to see what he is up to. Upon hearing about his quest, the rather people-adverse Kikujirō decides to accompany the boy on his search for his mother. From here the film is very much a traditional ”on the road”/road-trip film. Although it is filled with tragedy and sadness, the comedic nature of the rather grumpy Kikujirō gives the film many sweet and amusing moments.
This really is a charming film that is worth your time. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times, and it remains one of my top 10 films of all time.
Japan Sinks/日本沈没 (Shinji Higuchi, 2006)
This is a disaster movie on such an epic scale, that it feels like it was made in the 80s. A devastating earthquake strikes a city in Southern Japan. As geologists around the world study the quake, they realise that Japan is sinking… Initial estimates say it will occur over a 40 year period , but a Japanese scientist calculates it will be less than 1 year until the county becomes part of the ocean.
This film has all the elements of a great disaster film – an emotional, patriotic, and steadfast hero, terrible CGI, large-scale destruction, and of course a love story.
Fun story – I watched this film in a movie theatre in a recognisable Japanese building. In the film, the building I was watching the film in was destroyed by a tsunami….it was the oddest feeling!
Tampopo/タンポポ (Jūzō Itami, 1985)
This film is the first Japanese “ramen western” and an utterly charming 80s comedy. If you’re like me and you love Japanese food (particularly noodles) then you will love this film.
A pair of truck drivers rescue a small boy who has been beat up by his schoolmates. The boy turns out to be the son of a young widower who runs a noodle shop. The men return the boy and as a thank you are given some noodles. After declaring the noodles “not good”, the noodle-loving truck drivers decide that they need to master the art of noodle making. There are several story-lines which involve both the key characters and other customers in the noodle stop. The story-lines all involve food in some way (whether it is how to eat politely, or something more suggestive), and are very amusing.
An entertaining film which will leave you craving ramen!
I hope you like my suggestions! If you watch any of these films, be sure to let me know what you think! Have a great weekend everyone.